After being shunned by the Toms River Republican Club over his actions that most of the rank and file members of the party disagree with, Toms River Mayor Mo Hill and his lawyer, Gregory P. McGuckin have formed a third political party in town.
Tonight, they are hoping to take full control of the party when their “New Toms River Republican Party” seeks to gain official recognition by the county organization at the annual county nominating convention.
Hill, McGuckin and their allies are upset because the Toms River Regular Republican Club denied access to dozens of new Toms River residents who wanted to join the club two months ago.
Hill has been accused by the club of trying to inflate the membership roster with his political allies in an attempt to take over the party.
When that didn’t work, Hill, along with McGuckin formed a new party and with their political influence at the county level, will attempt to make the 35 year old regular Republican club obsolete.
They have the support of Ocean County Chairman Frank Holman, Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, Freeholder Virginia Haines and all of Mo Hill’s new allies in Toms River and on the township council.
If Hill succeeds tonight, he will have complete control of all of Toms River, including town hall, the Toms River School Board, the Toms River MUA and all things in between.
Councilman Daniel Rodrick who is the lone Republican on the council to oppose the formation of Hill’s 3rd party said the problem is not the club, it is Mo Hill.
“Mayor Hill and his policies are very unpopular with the rank and file members of the local Republican Club and they have overwhelmingly rejected his takeover,” he said. “Now Hill is trying to get a fake club recognized by the county.”
Mo Hill has refused to comment on the formation of his new club.
Geri Ambrosio, the President of the Toms River Republican Club said that Hill’s Club is a sham, saying they are claiming membership of people who never joined or were coerced to join on false pretenses.
The legality of Mo Hill’s Club may also come into play and be challenged. The club was incorporated by two sitting elected officials, Kevin Geoghegan and Matt Lotano in violation of New Jersey Election Law.
Under New Jersey law, no elected officials may form or sit on the executive board of a continuing political action committee. Geoghegan and Lotano have since removed themselves as trustees, but the formation of the club illegally poses a problem for the county organization if Holman decides to move forward and anoint Hill’s new club as the official Republican club in Toms River.
An audio recording of New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin demanding the board executive members resign was heard from a winter meeting of the club. McGuckin demanded that all of the club leadership quit their posts so he and Hill can take over the existing club. When that demand was not met, Ambrosio said threats, intimidation and even bribes to give McGuckin control of the party were thrown around.
Ocean County Chairman Frank Holman also demanded Ambrosio step down. Earlier this year, Mo Hill demoted Ambrosio’s husband at his job at town hall because she would not play political ball with the unpopular mayor.
Holman and McGuckin held a meeting where they tried to strongarm Ambrosio, then allegedly bribe her.
“During this meeting, my position on the tax board was discussed, my husband’s township job was discussed, and I was asked if there was anything I wanted (a position) in exchange for my resignation,” Ambrosio said. “I said all I wanted was for the club to remain intact and for the mayor and his team to join the club. These threats to our employment and positions where I was appointed by the Governor, bordered on or were unlawful acts which were done to others.”